When the future enters into us . . .

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke

As I was re-reading Frances Mayes Discovery of Poetry in preparation for my Creative Writing class, I came upon a quotation by Rilke, “The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens,” during a section on poetic inspiration and the origins of the desire for self-expression.  I presented this head-scatcher of a quotation to my eight creative writers and told them that I wanted this course to be the future entering them.  They gave me blank stares, which I felt, was justified.  I should’ve known better than to give them such an abstract thought on the first day of school.

All the same, I meant what I said.  I really do want my course to change their lives, even if they don’t realize it until much later.  I’ve had classes like this in high school, college, graduate school.  I’m so grateful to those teachers and professors.  It’s why the profession has such appeal for me.  Of course, I realize that’s a tall order for me as a teacher, but it’s what I hope all the same.  Who knows how successful I’ve been or will be?  It may take years to find out.

Like many of my students, the experiences I had as a student were “futures” entering me, abstract possibilities, which at the time, I didn’t fully appreciate or understand.  Perhaps, back then, I felt the force of their impact, but like a blindsided punch, it wouldn’t be until much later that I realized what I was hit by.  As a teacher, I always remind myself that the things I say or do may not have been fully understood, but could still have a substantial impact.

So, I hope Period 7 will forgive me for slinging Rilke at them , but maybe, just maybe, the quotation will haunt them a little until they wrestle it to the ground and make sense of it for themselves.


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